Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I work on a beautiful campus

I've several times blogged about the beauty of the University of Chicago campus. For an urban place, it's remarkably green, conscientiously a botanical garden, in fact. It also has some striking architecture, new and old, or old designed to look even older than it is.

This is a photo of the cathedral-sized Rockefeller Chapel, iconic landmark of the campus, from my office window in the cold evening light. Zoomed all the way out to 4X optical,  whatever that is, on my handy new Canon point-n-shoot.

 This morning's vision of the rising sun viewed through the steam plant effluvia also caught my eye. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Teddy says

"Why would you go through a door 
if you can go under it?"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bah, humbug! Except...

I'm a skeptic and a cynic (some people might say, a grump) when it comes to Christmas, though I'm willing to go along with KLK's and other peoples' traditions and usually am not too unhappy when I do.
But one thing that I do love is the exchange of Christmas cards. My parents were big-time Christmas carders in the days before e-mail and e-cards (though one friend sends me the most lovely e-cards imaginable) and when long distance calls seemed foolishly expensive, and I've staunchly carried on the tradition. It is the one time of the year when I can let friends and family who have drifted away a little but about whom I still care know that I'm thinking of them, and even better, receive their cards and their family newsletters that I immensely enjoy.
The cards drift in slowly, starting early in the month of December and sometimes not fully stopping until January. (Or February. One year, I got one with hearts on it!)

I don't know if fine glitter shows up on scans, but here are my favorites so far this year:

Oh, and I do love Bach's Advent and Christmas cantatas, too!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two peregrine falcons

I just happened to be gazing out one of my living room windows that overlooks Lake Michigan right around noon today when I saw two peregrine falcons fly by. It's been a long time since I saw one, much less two together, in this neighborhood (though they are still very much here, just not nesting successfully any more). It is sheer joy to see them, it's even possible that they already pairing up. Mating season in Chicago is usually around February, let's hope they try again this year. The University of Chicago some years ago mounted nest boxes on two campus buildings the birds seemed to favor, but they've not yet quite got the idea of how to use the boxes. Last year one of the campus peregrine-spotters saw one standing on a nest box. Maybe it was checking out its suitability for raising a brood. Stay tuned for updates as courting/nesting season approaches.

From my new office I will have a new view of one of their flight paths to the corner of campus where they hang out these days. The photo above was from one of their alternative sites (in 2005), which apparently the birds found ideal for laying eggs. Until, that is, the first hard rain of late spring. Beauty? Brawn? Yes. Brains? Maybe not so much.

Aging, but no longer gracefully

KLK's far-and-away family favorites have always been his maternal Grandpa (who died in 1992) and his Grandma, alive but suffering the indignities of nursing home life. Grandma, now 94, has handicapping memory problems in addition to her physical frailties. Although she recognizes KLK as the one who loves and cares for her, I'm not sure she could pinpoint their exact relationship. Yes, I said the ONE because her youngest daughter, KLK's mother, died in 2002, and her oldest daughter, his aunt, is perfectly happy to hand her nephew full responsibility for her mother. To abuse Tolstoy a little, "all families are dysfunctional in their own way."

All of that aside, KLK at last finished the overwhelming tasks of emptying the big house Grandma and Grandpa shared and raised their daughters in since the early 1950's, and getting it sold (nicely enough, to someone who benefited from the first-time buyer's tax credit).

But he brought home a few things of real value, premier among them photographs dating back to about 1920; I'm busily scanning them to assure preservation of the very precious memories.

I have been so very touched by how beautiful and visibly happy Grandma (and her husband and daughters) once were, and how life takes all that, and everything else, away so cruelly at the end.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Poor Teddy!

I'm beginning to understand why women with young children blog mostly about...their children. Teddy the Tubby Tabby is likewise fodder for more than one report, especially as he is still very much a baby and subject to kitten maladies. Some weeks ago, when I was observing his symptoms of teething I noticed his gums were bright red, but as he was losing and gaining teeth just about daily, I attributed the inflammation to the normal process. 

Not long ago he went to the vet for his booster shots, and the doc took the opportunity to check him from top to toe. Dr. Williams too noted the bright redness of his little gums, but agreed it might be associated with the business of teething. But, he also mentioned that it is sometimes caused by infection by the Bartonella bacterium. So we left it at that, since he's due back in a couple of weeks for his "little operation."  

All I've known about Bartonella up to this point is that people with HIV can experience terrible infections of organs such as the brain from it, but that generally it's not a vicious agent among non-immune compromised humans.
Then last Wednesday morning, I noticed the skin over Teddy's nasal septum was bright red. I suspected he'd bashed himself somehow in all his rough and tumble play. It was still red, maybe more so, when I got home from work that night, and the next morning. Even though Teddy didn't appear to be the least bit bothered by his nose, he was also occasionally blasting off a sneeze. So I called the vet, and spoke to Dr. Williams's partner.  Dr. Wake said that it's very likely Bartonella, and to start Teddy on 250 mg. of the amino acid, L-lysine, mixed in his food morning and evening for 10 days. 

Well, I'm game to try anything that works, especially when it comes to avoiding a trip to the vet and stuffing antibiotic pills down a cat's gullet. KLK stopped by Walgreens on the way home and picked up a pricey bottle of 500 mg L-lysine tablets, and the coolest Deluxe Cut N' Crush pill doohickey ever seen. 

I'm here to tell you, L-lysine is either flavorless/undetectable when mixed with canned kitten food, or it's actually appealing; Teddy was most interested when I set up the shot of the amazing pill-splitter/crusher. 

In spite of the soaring triumph of getting Teddy to willingly take his medicine I'm not sure now that after four doses things are any better.  OKAY, so Dr. Wake said 10 days. It's been less than 48 hours since his first dose. (I am not entirely calm about this, and won't be until the redness starts to clearly subside.)

 But this pill tool thing, it's a wonder of modern engineering (photo courtesy of Walgreens's Web site). Not only does it have a splitter that works perfectly, the crusher also unfailingly turns pills to powder. In the bottom there's a little four-way compartment to store the day's pills in, and the top pulls off to reveal--TA-DA--a teensy vessel for drinking water with which to swallow whatever the result of your re-engineering using the other features is. Why, it's the very SWISS ARMY KNIFE of pill-taking!